“Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals and the answer is: Because the animals are like us. Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals and the answer is: Because the animals are not like us. Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.”
― Charles R. Magel philosophy professor
A flashback to the experiments that have been conducted on humans
During the Second World War, many experiments were conducted by Josef Mengele, who became known as the Angel of death, in Auschwitz, and many experiments were conducted in the Unit 731, in Japan, where thousands of people were used as guinea pigs and some of the most despicable experiments in the worldwide war history had been taken place.
It is very difficult to compare the experiments carried out on humans by the German and Japanese forces in the respective concentration camps, since it is impossible to realize the extent of the horror and violation of every notion of human rights that took place in these hells. Indicatively, it is reported that in the Nazi concentration camps the following experiments took place on human bodies and souls, usually resulting in death: freezing and thawing of bodies by various techniques, admission to special chambers of low atmospheric pressure, infection by various diseases, removal of organs without anesthesia, genetic experiments for the creation of the Aryan race, mass sterilization, ingestion of large amounts of seawater, administration of poisonous chemicals, induction and healing of injuries, organ transplants, artificial insemination experiments and mass exterminations in gas chambers.
In a 2007 interview that was published in the newspaper of Japan Times, a Japanese doctor who participated in the experiments once exclaimed cynically: ”I was afraid during my first vivisection, but the second time around, it was much easier. By the third time, I was willing to do it.”
1946 -1948: Trials of syphilis medical products were conducted by the US government in Guatemala. The U.S. Department of Health collaborated with the secret services of Guatemala, and they infected on purpose with syphilis and gonorrhea more than 5500 people in the country. Their aim was to test the effectiveness of penicillin in sexually transmitted diseases.
According to the US National Institute of Health, within 10 years (’97-’07) they had been more than 58,000 drug and vaccine trials in the countries of the developing world. Most drug and vaccine trials took place in India and China, and they were followed by Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Peru, Colombia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malawi and Uganda.
In 1996, in Nigeria the pharmaceutical company Pfizer was responsible for the death of at least 15 children during trials for the company’s new drug against meningitis. When the country was confronted a meningitis epidemic, the trials, which were conducted illegally and under the guise of humanitarian aid, the Nigerian government was forced to sue Pfizer, but the case never made it to the courts. A few years later, the same company conducted clinical trials for a new anti-inflammatory drug in Latin American countries. It was never released in western countries because it was indicated that it was the cause of strokes and heart diseases.
Why allowing the use of non human animals in experiments since it is immoral to do that to humans?
Annually, more than 100,000,000 animals undergo experiments.These experiments are associated to the production of cosmetic products, cigarettes, cleaning products, foods, stationery, adhesives and of course medicines, etc.
Gladly, since 2013, within the European Union territory it is forbidden to conduct experiments on animals by companies that produce cosmetics, and even if the experiments are taking place outside of the E.U territory, the products can’t be sold within the E.U (after a court hearing held in 2016). But animal testing keeps taking place for the production of the rest producs that are mentioned above.
The use of non human animals in trials has been proven ineffective:
Research shows that 92% of drugs tested on animals are discarded during clinical research on humans.Ultimately, scientists wonder whether the control in substances on animals it helps or it creates confusion. It seems that we learn more about the laboratory animals through experiments than about the human reactions. At the same time, we learn about where the human indifference, the ignorance, and the false perception of the superiority of the human species over other forms of life can reach.
In a 2001 survey that was conducted in more than 65 products, it was found that only 45% of the experiments’ results on rabbits responded to the reactions of the human organism.
In a research, that was published in the British Medical Journal, which assessed the effectiveness of more than 220 studies where thousands of animals were used it was found that nearly half studies failed to predict human outcomes. They had the same success as tossing the coins.
None of the drugs for AIDS, came from trials that invloved animal testing. In contrast, since 1987 there have been thirty vaccines tested in monkeys, which were all rejected by humans.
The outdated experiments do not take into account the factors that could alter the result such as the mental state of the laboratory animal under the terrible conditions of its treatment, neither the family medical history of the patient, his/her environment, nor his/her bad diet, his/her stress and its possible side effects.
ADVANTAGES OF ALTERNATIVE EXPERIMENT METHODS
1. Often alternative methods of experiments are more reliable.
An example given is the carcinogenic properties of glass wool were proved after the scientists experimented on humans. Experiments conducted on monkeys, guinea pigs, rats, mice, hamsters, and baboons showed no connection between the two of them. Likewise, the skin irritation tests utilising a common protocol for in vitro reconstructed human epidermal model Epiderm’s experiments found all the chemical components that affect the human skin. At the same time, the same experiments when they were conducted on rabbits, they failed by 40% (10 out of 25 experiments gave the wrong results).
2. The use of human skin on toxic experiments gives more accurate results than the use of animals on them.
Example given is the LD50 testing which forces animals to swallow toxic substances until 50% amongst them die at the time of the experiments. Dr. Bjotn Ekwall created a test which had an accuracy of 85% in comparison to the animal tests that had a mere accuracy of 61-65%. In fact, it provided more answers to the toxicity issues that could not be provided while the experiments were conducted on animals which were suffering, and they were anxious because their emotional state did not allow it.
3. Experiments that are not done on animals have the least cost, they are more practical and useful.
The in vitro international tests of Corrositex provide results in a period from 3 minutes to 4 hours while the tests that were conducted on animals, provide results in 2 to 4 days. Dak Dak testing is a method of experiment concerning the sunscreen efficiency which provided results within days while the corresponding animal testing method would have taken months to give results. It can test 5-6 products at half the price of the alternative animal test for 1 product only. Traditional animal experiments can take up to 5 years to experiment for just one ingredient, while for many chemicals an alternative experiment gives answers within a week, at a much lower cost.. At the same time an alternative experiment gives answers for many chemical substances within a week, at a much lower cost.
4. Alternative experiments are more environmentally friendly.
Raising animals that eventually end up as their carcasses and consequently they develop as pathogens and hazardous waste. The alternative methods provide less waste.
With the release of the report “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy”, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, in 2007 analysed the limitations of toxicity testings on animals, and it demanded changing with the alternative experiments. Thus, in 2008 EPA and NIH’s National Toxicology Program and Chemical Genomics Center signed the “Memorandum of Understanding.” They wanted to follow the report’s vision and they started developing new methods of toxicity testings that include the use of human cells created in a laboratory, rather the use of animals. After the evaluation of 300 chemicals using the new methods, at the same time they discovered that thousands of chemicals can be tested with this method. Today EPA is in the process of creating artificial human organs.
Then, why animal testing is still a thing?
Usually, the reasons that they continue to experiment on animals because of conservatism and the mentality of “this is how it always happened”. In addition, the adoption of alternative experiments requires time-consuming and tedious bureaucratic procedures…
Try to watch the following clip…and have in mind that’s just an animation…. The Plague Dogs is a 1982 British-American animated adventure drama film, based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Richard Adams.
Examples of discoveries from tests on humans:
– The insulin therapy was suggested from the observation of patients, it was not necessary to remove the pancreas from a dog in 1920,
– The brain surgery of patients with Parkinson’s led to the conclusion of Deep Brain Stimulation which uses the electrodes to relieve symptoms, it was not necessary to apply it to the monkeys.
– The discovery of major Alzheimer’s symptoms, they study parts of patients ‘ brains after they had died.
It was discovered that the mice and rats do not get cancer from smoking, because they studied different populations from different countries…
– Doctors from Germany, Australia and America were making different tests on themselves, they have proven the effect of the paracetamol, the influence of anesthetic gas etc.
What can we do?
Firstly, inform ourselves, our family, our friends and generally people around us… Today, ignorance is the biggest problem. Change comes only after getting informed….
Secondly, we quit buying products (such as cosmetics, detergents, etc.) from companies that are experimenting on animals and instead we start buying products with the Cruelty free certification. Nowadays, in supermarkets and organic shops we can find plethora of these products.
Our daily choices are the ones that sustain all these criminal practices. Buying products from companies that do not respect animal rights is a way from us to say that we accept these practices.
Some good news from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and from Holland:
By 2016, none of the 202 accredited medical schools in the United States or Canada is known to use live animals for student training. As recently as February 2015, four medical schools—the University of Mississippi, Rush University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Tennessee’s campus in Chattanooga—used animals for this purpose, but all have since ended the practice.
“We now focus our attention on the areas of specialized medical training and research where animals are still being used”: Emergency Medicine Residencies, Advanced Trauma Life Support, Paediatrics Residencies & Combat Trauma Training are still testing on animals.
The Dutch government aims to phase out animal testing for research on the safety of chemicals by 2025. The Netherlands wants to be a “world leader” in innovation without the use of laboratory animals.
Let’s hope more countries will follow…
Translation: Panayiota Mavroudi, team member of the Respond Crisis Translation